St. Mary is one of the few parishes in the state that still observes Red Ribbon Week thanks to its faithful sponsors. As federal funds have dried up over the years, most parishes have dropped the observation entirely or reduced it to a single day, said Diane Wiltz, drug-free schools coordinator.
The awareness campaign in schools focuses lessons on drug and violence prevention, but the campaign is larger than that because it brings the community as a whole together because everyone from garden clubs to civic organizations also join the cause.
“All these people work on one accord for one cause during this one week,” Wiltz said.
She also noted that while the cause is in the forefront this week, it is something that is a focus all year.
The Red Ribbon Committee’s Fall Bazaar, the lone fundraiser for the group, will be held Nov. 10 at the Patterson Area Civic Center. Also, a Clergy Appreciation Breakfast will be Nov. 15, the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Top Cop Ceremony is Dec. 10 and the Safe and Sober Prom will be held in the spring.
Brittany Bergeron of Berwick is the mother of three-year-old Jayce. She and her family enjoyed Saturday’s fair weather and the events on the grounds of Morgan City’s petting zoo, saying she thinks Red Ribbon Week is good for school-age children because it teaches them safety.
“I’m looking forward to when he gets in school to show him the right things to do,” she said of Jayce.
More than 735 people attended the festivities, Wiltz said. The count included the number of treat bags the group prepared to give out at the door, and they ran out, she said.
Three Knights of Columbus councils — St. Andrew 8371, Holy Cross 12179 and Sacred Heart 1373 — along with the Msgr. Jules S. Toups Assembly donated hamburgers and cooked them on a pit assembly donated by District Attorney Phil Haney. St. Mary Outreach sold them and kept 100 percent of the profits.
Juliana Nguyen, a 10th grader at Morgan City High School, said students like the Zoo to Boo celebration because “everyone comes together to compete and have fun and eat … there’s not much to do here, so this is something to look forward to.”
Competitions are another longstanding tradition of Zoo to Boo. Those include banner and cheer competitions following the parade of schools and a costume contest for those attending the festival.
West St. Mary won the high school banner and cheer competitions.
In the junior high division, cheer was won by Morgan City Junior High with Berwick Junior High in second and B. Edward Boudreaux in third. For banners, MCJHS placed first, with BEB in second and BJHS in third.
Elementary division winners in cheer were LaGrange, J.A. Hernandez and Wyandotte. For banners, first place was Hattie Watts; second, Raintree; and third, Bayou Vista Elementary.
Community winner in both categories was Claire House.
Costume contest winners in the up to age 3 division were: first place, Logan Stanzione; second place, Aurora Oncale; and third place, Lille Mae Buford. For pre-kindergarten to first grade, winners were Ethan Wyatt, Bryce Jones and Vincent Acosta.
In the second and third grade division, Braylen Kemp and Jontae Johnson tied for first. Mia Grizzaffi was second place, and Lily Nguyen took third.
For fourth and fifth graders, Damien Daigle was first place, LeAnna Durant was second and McKayla Schexsnayder won third.